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Do You Need Gender Dysphoria to get HRT?

Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, is a treatment option available for those looking to transition from their sex assigned at birth to the gender they identify with. One common misconception about HRT is that you need to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria to receive treatment. In this blog, we’ll debunk this myth and dive into some of the facts about HRT, gender dysphoria and hormone treatment. Read on to learn more!

A Brief Overview

Individuals who identify as transgender or non-binary may sometimes utilize hormone replacement therapy to better express their gender identity. It can be an important step in the transition journey. However, there is a lot of confusion about who can receive hormone replacement therapy. As mentioned, the misconception about needing to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria to receive HRT is one of the most prevalent myths. While HRT is sometimes prescribed as a treatment for gender dysphoria, this isn’t always the case. On the flip side, receiving HRT isn’t dependent on a gender dysphoria diagnosis.

Before diving into the whys, let’s go over some quick definitions.

Understanding Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

First, let’s talk about hormone replacement therapy and what it does. HRT is a treatment option that is available to individuals who wish to change their body’s hormonal makeup to better match their gender identity and expression. HRT can also be used to relieve symptoms of menopause. The hormones that are commonly used in HRT include estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.

For trans and non-binary individuals, either testosterone or estrogen is typically used to masculinize or feminize their appearance respectively.

As mentioned, someone can utilize HRT to affirm their gender identity, whether they have gender dysphoria or not. It can also be a very important part of a broader treatment plan for gender dysphoria. To understand why, let’s talk about what gender dysphoria is next.

What Is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is a condition that causes an individual to experience intense feelings of distress and discomfort due to a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity. This condition can affect someone’s quality of life and can even lead to other mental health issues.

It’s important to note that gender dysphoria is not the same as being transgender or non-binary. While some trans or non-binary individuals may experience gender dysphoria, not all do. Also, not everyone with this condition identifies as trans or non-binary.

Societal norms and expectations can make it difficult or intimidating for those suffering from gender dysphoria to seek care, but it’s important to understand this condition and get the treatment you need to navigate your gender identity and feel more comfortable in your own body.

What does it feel like?

Gender dysphoria can manifest in different ways for each individual. Some may feel like they are trapped in the wrong body and that their physical characteristics don’t align with their gender identity. Others may feel disconnected or detached from their body due to the mismatch between their sex assigned and birth and their gender identity. Others may experience feelings of anxiety, depression or shame because of their body.

For some, gender dysphoria can occur regularly throughout their daily lives, while others may experience it only in certain citations. For example, when they have to wear clothing that doesn’t match their gender identity or when someone misgenders them.

Regardless of an individual's experience with gender dysphoria, it can be difficult to manage this condition, and it can easily affect your daily life, relationships and overall health.

It’s important to remember you’re not alone if you’re struggling with this condition. There are options for treatment and support.

Risks and concerns

Gender dysphoria can lead to many complications in an individual’s daily life. Some risks, concerns and complications may include, but are not limited to:

  • Discomfort with your body
  • Mental health issues like stress, depression and anxiety
  • Self-harm
  • Substance abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Impaired ability to function at work, school or other public locations
  • Fear of being discriminated against or harassed
  • Discrimination or harassment

Through several treatment options, those suffering from gender dysphoria can find a better way to manage their symptoms and better align themselves with their gender identity. These treatments may include support groups, therapy and medical interventions such as hormone replacement therapy.

Typically, HRT can be used as part of a gender dysphoria treatment plan. Treatment for gender dysphoria is often highly dependent on the individual and can vary on a case-to-case basis. HRT can be effective at helping someone better express their gender identity through physical characteristics, but it’s not necessarily an end-all-be-all solution to gender dysphoria. It’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional to get the best treatment plan possible.

Setting Up Support

We briefly talked about support and self-care in the treatment section above, but it’s important not to underestimate these two facets of managing anxiety. Having a strong support system can make your journey much easier and less intimidating. Anxiety can sometimes feel overwhelming and isolating, so it can help to have a support system to reach out to when you need it. This support system may include family, friends, your primary care provider, your therapist or counselor and support groups.

Self-care and compassion should also be practiced regularly. Don’t hesitate to take the time you need to read, spend time outside and take breaks as needed. Also, don’t be afraid to set boundaries when you aren’t feeling up to a social situation, or you feel like something might trigger your anxiety. 

Anxiety treatment is an ongoing process, and it’s okay to take things at your own pace.

How To Cope With Gender Dysphoria If You’re Trans or Non-Binary

As mentioned, not everyone who is trans or non-binary will experience gender dysphoria. However, if you are trans or non-binary and you’re struggling with this condition, it can be a challenging experience. It can help to find healthy ways to cope and help you during your transition to feeling more comfortable in your body. Here are some good ways to cope with gender dysphoria if you’re trans or non-binary:

  • Find a support network - First, finding a support network will be an incredibly beneficial step for treating your gender dysphoria. Supportive friends and family members are a great place to start. You can also seek out other members of the LGBTQ+ community in your local community or online. Connecting with people who understand what you’re going through can make you feel less isolated on your journey and give you the uplifting support you need.
  • Therapy and counseling - Gender-affirming care to align your physical body with your gender identity can be helpful, but it’s important to address your mental health as well. Transitioning can be an emotional experience, and having an LGBTQ+-friendly therapist or counselor can provide you with strategies for coping, mindfulness, stress reduction and more. They can also help you talk through your emotions as you work through your transition journey.
  • Self-care - Remember to take care of yourself and be compassionate with yourself. Take the time to do things that make you feel good and bring you happiness. It’s essential to relax and prioritize your well-being throughout this process.

Remember, this experience can be different for everyone. Transitioning or battling gender dysphoria is a deeply personal experience, and it’s important that you feel as comfortable and supported as possible.

Accessing HRT Without Gender Dysphoria

Now that we’ve addressed gender dysphoria let’s circle back to accessing HRT for individuals who don’t have gender dysphoria. HRT can be a gender-affirming treatment for those who have a strong desire to physically transition. You may wish to masculinize your appearance, feminize your appearance or have a more androgynous appearance.

Unfortunately, some states have restricted or banned gender-affirming care. If this is the case, getting HRT without a diagnosis can be difficult. However, those who live in states that haven’t restricted or banned care will have an easier time finding access to HRT through healthcare professionals.

Seeking informed consent clinics or LGBTQ+-friendly primary care providers are typically the best avenues for accessing hormone replacement therapy without a diagnosis.

Overall, it is important to remember that gender dysphoria is not a requirement for HRT in states with access to gender-affirming care. Accessing treatment without a diagnosis may be challenging, but it is possible with the right resources and support. It is up to each individual to decide if HRT is the right path for them, regardless of whether they experience gender dysphoria.

Talk to a Telehealth Provider Today

If you’re looking for gender-affirming care from an LGBTQ+-friendly provider, schedule a same-day appointment with Circle Medical. Circle Medical provides you with a safe and affirming space to talk with a board-certified primary care provider who can provide you with gender-affirming care right from the comfort of your home. No need to seek out an in-person facility or drive to a clinic. Our intuitive client portal allows you to easily schedule appointments, view your treatment plans, chat with your provider and more. Our practice can provide both masculinizing and feminizing gender-affirming care to those over the age of 18. 

Prescriptions for hormones (such as testosterone or estradiol), hormone blockers (such as spironolactone or finasteride), hair loss medications (such as finasteride) and erectile function medications are all available through Circle Medical. We know that seeking gender-affirming care can sometimes be a stressful and overwhelming process, which is why we make sure to provide a safe and caring environment for all of our patients. It all starts with a simple intake appointment where we get to know your needs and goals and discuss the possibility of gender-affirming care from there.

Get Treatment with Circle Medical

Circle Medical is a telehealth primary care provider for gender-affirming care and much more, and is opening clinics across the US. As mentioned, we also offer same-day appointments to conveniently work with your schedule. No more going to the doctor, waiting in waiting rooms and spending time and energy driving to a clinic. Simply make your same-day appointment with Circle Medical today to get started!

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